mark-zuckerberg-facebook-rachel-frenchCapitalism is alive and well, and while Facebook continues to be free for connecting with friends and family, it is harder than ever to use it to reach clients and prospects without paying.

If you are like many business owners, you probably created a Facebook page for your business and hustled to collect as many Likes as you could. And for a while, you probably enjoyed lots of interaction with those who had Liked your page. (This was true for me and my Facebook page!)

And then something happened: you noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of comments and shares and Likes on individual posts. Why? Was it something you did? Nope. It was just Phase One of what can only be called a sinister plot by Facebook to get us to buy advertising! (Okay, maybe I’m overstating, but it’s still pretty sneaky, isn’t it?)

So what’s Phase One? It’s no secret that Facebook makes money through advertising, and while you may have collected a lot of Likes for your business page, in order to reach more than about 5% of those people, you have to “boost” your posts or buy ads…YEP, you have to PAY just to reach the people who already Like you! Facebook says you’re paying to reach your customers, and they ain’t kiddin’.

And now there’s ANOTHER HUGE CHANGE you may not have noticed, and boy, is it a doozy. You’ll need to deal with this situation from both sides: as the owner of a page AND as someone who has Liked other pages.

Here’s the deal with Phase Two. Any page you’ve ever Liked in the past will NEVER send you another notification unless you go BACK to that page and turn the notifications on. Even if you have deliberately turned them on in the past, they’re turned off now.

The reason is worthy of head scratching. When Facebook updated and expanded the notification options for pages, they set the default to OFF for EVERYTHING.

This means you need to do two things:

Reach out to your Facebook fans through your personal account, messenger, email, carrier pigeon, or whatever and tell them to come back and turn notifications on for your business page. You may want to offer some sort of incentive or contest to motivate folks to take that extra step.

Go to every page you Like and for which you want to receive notifications, and turn those bad boys ON. Please note, this can ONLY be done from a computer, not from your phone. For more info and detailed step-by-step, Facebook provides pretty thorough instructions.

Will there be a Phase Three? For sure. Facebook-like any business-exists to make money. Your business also exists to make money. So we can whine and cry and stomp our feet and call Zuckerberg a scoundrel, we can take our ball and go home, and we can boycott Facebook. Or we can continue using Facebook to build our business and make adjustments as we go.

Facebook isn’t the only game in town, but for now it’s a monster of a leader, and if you’ve invested a lot in building a brand and fan base there, you have some decisions to make about if, when, and how to invest in continuing to leverage your presence on Facebook.

But do you have to use Facebook? Nope. You can build a successful biz without getting in bed with Zuckerberg. People do it all the time.

What should YOU do? Seek advice FIRST from a smart business coach and a good online marketing expert and THEN make your decision. That’s the beauty of being the owner–you get to make that call.

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